Life skills help where it's needed

In mastering the economics of daily life, each generation ought to be allowed to ride its own learning curve.

But the curve's getting steeper. Marketers float sophisticated lures. Work is often spun in the media as just a quest for solo success, investing as a video game.

And many of today's youths seem to exhibit a superficial kind of savvy that could land them in real trouble.

That's not a knock. Plenty of people with full tanks of "life experience" get caught, say, too closely riding the day-to-day gyrations of the mechanical bull of the stock market - and getting thrown.

Information is delivered in bulk these days. It's tough to get it sorted out before the next big load arrives. Important context is lost.

Many middle-class youths keep pace with new technology, for example, but let its ramifications slide. Napster becomes a sweet way to score tunes. It's effect on recording artists? Whatever!

The need for parents' guidance is accelerating fast, perhaps faster than some adults can gear up to provide it - given that many are probably struggling to establish their own consumer, workplace, and investment strategies.

Some help, and some hope:

A private, Washington-based initiative called Financial Literacy 2001 announced plans last week to equip more than 40,000 US high school instructors to teach personal finance.

The San Diego-based Institute of Consumer Financial Information (www.financial-education-icfe.org) cites a promising wave of kids-and-finance learning videos.

And a Lutheran Brotherhood survey of sixth- through 11th-graders ranked smarts, friends, and sports as being higher priorities than money. Reach us at work@csps.com.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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